25 December 2012


This wonderful video comes from Geoff Coupe's blog and should be able to help those who are unable to understand how to operate Windows 8. I think Geoff Coupe is surprised at those people who are complaining about this programme, but not everyone is computer literate and for some of us Windows 8 is totally incomprehensible!

22 December 2012


Dropbox is a very useful tool to enable you to share files and folders with everyone else.

However, when you have a problem and want to contact Dropbox for information on how a particular programme works, it is literally impossible to find out how to get any answers because they are not contactable.

If there is a solution to this ridiculous situation, I hope someone who knows will contact me and tell me how to send them a message, otherwise Dropbox is of no use to me and I will certainly make sure that I tell everyone else I know who is contemplating a cloud programme that dropbox is not the way to go!

12 December 2012


December 17th 2012 will be Bradley Manning's third birthday in prison without trial

Bradley's 25th birthday. Report from his attorney's first public presentation.

Help us continue to cover 100% of Bradley's legal fees! Donate today.

Bradley's attorney praises public support, thanks 'truth-battalion'

In his presentation David Coombs acknowledges the importance of public support, and he affirmed that your ongoing support has made a real difference.

On December 3rd, David Coombs, Bradley's attorney, gave his first public presentation to an audience of over 100 at All Souls Church in Washington DC. In his speech, he acknowledged the importance of public support and the influence public pressure had in having Bradley moved from Quantico prison. He also acknowledged the difficulty Bradley faces with so much government opposition:

Bradley's attorney David Coombs.
Watch the presentation here:

"When I'm in the courtroom, I stand up and look to my right, and, I see the United States government. The United States government with all of its resources, all of its personnel, I see them standing against me and Brad. And I have to admit to you, that can be rather intimidating. And I was intimidated. Especially when the President of the United States says your client broke the law. Especially when congress members say your client deserves the death penalty.

I want to tell you though today as I stand here I'm no longer intimidated. I am not intimidated because when I stand up I know I'm not standing alone. I know I'm not alone because I turn around and I see the support behind me. I see members here today in the audience that are there every time we have a court hearing. I see what I am not going to affectionately call the 'truth batallion,' those who wear a black shirt. It has the word 'truth' on it, and they are behind me. And when I look there, I know that I also have unlimited personnel and unlimited resources."

View the Presentation. Donate now to the Bradley Manning defense fund. For more information about the defense fund click here.

December 17th will be Bradley Manning's third birthday in prison without trial Let Bradley know you care! Write him a letter of support for his 25th birthday - his third behind bars.

Bradley Manning will turn 25 on December 17th. It will be his third birthday in prison without trial. His court martial is scheduled for March, 2013.

Military whistle-blower Bradley Manning will turn 25 on December 17th.

It will be his third birthday in prison, and by the time his court martial begins it will have been almost three years in prison: one year of which in the Quantico marine brig, where he was held in solitary confinement against the recommendations of mental health professionals. His trial is scheduled to start next March, and he needs our support. Please take a few minutes to send Bradley a birthday message, and to send a gift to his Defense Fund.

Bradley can receive mail at the following address: Commander, HHC USAG Attn: PFC Bradley Manning 239 Sheridan Ave, Bldg 417 JBM-HH, VA 22211 Visit this link to read about mail restrictions.

Bradley's lawyer David Coombs recently spoke publicly for the first time. He said that Bradley is one of the smartest, most caring young men he's ever met, and he also talked about Bradley's future dreams and goals:

"And [Bradley] told me that his dream would be to go to college, go into public service, and perhaps one day, run for public office. And I asked Brad, why would he want to do that? And he said, 'I want to make a difference. I want to make a difference in this world.'"

Please take some time before December 17 to show Bradley that you are thinking of him, and appreciate his efforts to hold US government officials accountable by informing the American public.

In addition to mailing him a birthday message and donating to his Defense Fund, you can also take a photo holding a "Happy birthday Bradley Manning!" sign and e-mail it to


We will compile photos to share on our website, and send them to Bradley as well.

Help us continue to cover 100% of Bradley's legal fees! Donate today.


Michael Leunig has long been a cartoonist of some controversy and has been the cause of passionate debates about his political directions.But as Michael himself says in his essay below, that is, in essence, what cartoonists are meant to do.

I well remember, in South Africa, during some of the worst periods of the previous apartheid regime [we now have a new black one, courtesy Jacob Zuma, current president!] that many of our favourite cartoonists were often in trouble because the government detested what they were looking at, mocking, deriding, and making fun of - if you can call making mincemeat of a police state fun - illustrating the excesses of the South African political rulers of the day.

And, of course, many of them were warned and threatened by President PW Botha and others before and after for drawing seditious cartoons which in their views would have supported uprisings and worse, revolutions of the most violent sort!

And just on the issue of Jacob Zuma, some of South Africa's current finest cartoonists are taking Zuma to task for his current excesses and he is very upset by the media who publish such cartoons, to say nothing of the cartoonists themselves, one of whom happens to be white, and Jewish.

Now, back to Michael Leunig and his having to defend himself against a morally bankrupt Melbourne and Australian Jewish community, who live in Australia, but like to call Israel home!

Many of us Jews in Australia who don't "TOE THE PARTY LINE" about zionism and its excesses in Israel against Palestine are called self-hating Jews, and the zionists also use their favourite epithet and call us anti-semites.

These days, of course, those who oppose the Israeli apartheid regime, both Jewish and non-Jewish, are labelled anti-semites, and it would be funny if it wasn't so tragic and a travesty of human rights and hatred.

Here is Michael Leunig's essay, which speaks for itself and many of us who support him and his right to draw things as he sees them

Just a cartoonist with a moral duty to speak

December 11, 2012 (The Age)
By Michael Leunig

The cartoonist's task is not to be balanced but to give balance.

SEVERAL years ago I was invited to speak at Melbourne's Jewish Museum on the subject of ''The cartoonist as society's conscience''. I gladly accepted but within a week was informed by the museum that the invitation had been withdrawn because of my views on Israel. Although I had been somewhat critical of aggressive Israeli government policies I had never publicly outlined my broad views on Israel and was puzzled by the cancellation and bemused by the gross irony of being excluded from a discussion about conscience because I had acted with conscience in my work.

Upon reflection I wondered if an internal philosophical disagreement lay behind this peculiar cancellation. Whatever, a door had been closed to me.

I relate this tale as a backdrop to more recent circumstances in which it has been publicly inferred that I am anti-Semitic because of a cartoon I created expressing sad dismay at the plight and suffering of the Palestinians in the recent bombardment of Gaza.

As a cartoonist I am not interested in defending the dominant, the powerful, the well-resourced and the well-armed because such groups are usually not in need of advocacy, moral support or sympathetic understanding; they have already organised sufficient publicity for themselves and prosecute their points of view with great efficiency.

The work of the artist is to express what is repressed or even to speak the unspoken grief of society. And the cartoonist's task is not so much to be balanced as to give balance, particularly in situations of disproportionate power relationships such as we see in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It is a healthy tradition dating back to the court jester and beyond: to be the dissenting protesting voice that speaks when others cannot or will not.

My recent cartoon ("First they came for the Palestinians … ") was a lament based on the famous lines attributed to Pastor Martin Niemoller that neatly highlight the way apathetic or frightened silence in the face of injustice is a dereliction of moral duty. It is interesting to note that Niemoller had been an active Nazi supporter but a decade after the war became a pacifist.

Although greatly valued in contemporary Jewish culture, the poem's message is universal and eternal; it could apply to any oppressed group, including the Palestinians who, even with their relatively feeble rockets, are so obviously oppressed.

In spite of all the highly organised rhetoric justifying Israel's actions, the intuitive, heartfelt moral shape of the situation is becoming clearer and more obvious to the world the longer the conflict goes on. When all is said and done, it looks like the Palestinians have been massively robbed and abused, and are engaged in a desperate struggle for survival and liberation. Israel on the other hand would appear to be conducting an imperialistic campaign of oppression supported and substantially armed by the most powerful nation on earth. My cartoonist's duty and conscience compel me to focus on the plight of the subjugated, the ones most neglected, severely deprived and cruelly afflicted.

I am not against Israel but I am opposed to what I regard as its self-defeating, self-corrupting militarist policy, which is not only excessively homicidal and traumatising but sows the seeds of irreversible hatred and can never bring a lasting peace. One expects more from a prosperous democratic country. It's as if this young nation Israel has not yet come to maturity; so delinquent, irresponsible and unwise are its actions.

I sense that the Jewish community in this country is itself increasingly divided on the question. I also suspect that the more aggressive Israel supporters fear this moral unease and quiet doubt in their community and are angered by any cartoons or commentary that might encourage such doubt. In spite of what the bullies say, I suspect they are not really upset by any "anti-Semitism" in my cartoons (there is none) but by the possible impact of a cartoon on the doubters. The better the cartoon, the more it must be discredited. What cheaper way to discredit than the toxic smear of anti-Semitism.

I am not sure whether it is legal to publicly call someone an anti-Semite without evidence but it certainly feels like hate talk to me, as well as a damaging thing to say about someone who does not agree with you. That's often why it is said of course. At my advanced age, I know I am not an anti-Semite, not even vaguely or remotely, but others would seem to know better as false accusers always do. If only there was some sort of test I could sit for to clarify the situation, but there is no science to this obsessive and vapid denunciation. It's cynical, it's bullying and it's lazy. Stupidly, it's also a case of the boys who cry wolf.

Over the years it has been implied that I am "a second degree anti-Semite", "a new-world anti-Semite" and a "latent anti-Semite" as well as a simple old-fashioned common or garden anti-Semite. I now learn to my amazement that to make comparisons between Israeli policy and any Nazi behaviour is in itself an anti-Semitic act. So much for free speech. I say all nations that throw their military weight around, occupying neighbouring lands and treating the residents with callous and humiliating disregard are already sliding towards the dark possibilities in human nature.

My cartoons have also had me labelled a misogynist, a blasphemer, a homophobe, a royalist, a misanthrope and a traitor, to name but a few. I would sum it all up by saying: I am a cartoonist.

Michael Leunig is an Age cartoonist.


The Australian Broadcasting Corporation is 80 years old but it still has a great deal to learn.

It is now doing promos to death for each new show coming on, and despite complaints this ghastly process still continues.

To introduce its nightly news bulletin it tells its viewers "ABC NEWS! ABC NEWS! ABC NEWS!" - people who have turned it on for the news know the news is about to begin, but NO!!! - the ABC has to tell all us morons - "ABC NEWS! ABC NEWS! ABC NEWS!"

For years we have been telling the ABC that their radio promos are drowned out by background music, and it is now even happening with such people as Marion Arnold on ABC Classic FM but she is just one who is being drowned out by the music over!

There are many examples of how the ABC is run, but with someone like Mark Scott who came from print media to the ABC - the print media being that execrable stable the Fairfax media - we can't expect anything other than a backward political disaster created by federal governments of all hues some decades ago, and deteriorating ever since.

Since SBS has refused to stop its in-between advertising on all its shows, we were left with the ABC as the only so-called advert free free-to-air station, but it has been becoming more and more unwatchable, unlistenable, and so right-wing reactionary that it is appalling.

In addition, so many programmes are now repeats - what is the point of it all?

11 December 2012


Rupert Murdoch controls a large quantity of the western media, and as a consequence he influences the thinking of many people who don't have deeply committed views on a range of issues, from politics to economics and other items of everyday living such as education and health.

His media also have very set ideas of what their lord and master requires of them and they set out to ensure his beliefs are allowed to dominate his media at the expense of truth, honesty, integrity, ant-discrimination and most of the issues which are our daily lives.

When it comes to political matters such as Israel and Palestine, it is not too difficult to guess on which side of the divide Murdoch and his media lie, to coin an apt word!

There is a blog which I look at on a daily basis and a few days ago, this blog had a whole posting on what Murdoch's newspaper, the Australian, was writing about an item at Sydney University which had become very controversial because it dealt with the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions call by Palestinian groups to garner support for their ongoing campaign against Israeli oppression.

Because of the articles in the paper, people wrote letters with their views on the topic, and the following sentence from one of the letters published on 8 December 2012 shows how far conditioning by the media has gone that people could write in this manner:

Australians should be concerned by the unconscionable indoctrination of our young, who are largely unaware of the manipulations to which they are being subjected.

If anything shows unconscionable indoctrination and manipulations it is the whole of the Murdoch media, and it will only get worse because our media and educational institutions are part of this pathetic attempt to leave people in ignorance Aand to stop them being able to think for themselves.

03 December 2012


The abuse of power in the United States of America grows apace, and some of the articles to be posted on this page give a clear picture of Obama's dictatorial actions in his treatment of Bradley Manning and his threats against Julian Assange.

Bradley Manning's abusive and inhumane treatment by the Obama regime is not very different from George W Bush's Abu Ghraib - but Quantico is in the USA and Bradley Manning is a serving soldier in the US Army!

Bradley's first testimony in court: On unlawful pretrial punishment at Quantico.

Help us continue to cover 100% of Bradley's legal fees! Donate today.

Bradley Manning takes the stand, details months of abuse

Nine months in solitary ordered by brig command against the recommendations of three mental health professionals. David Coombs to speak in Washington, DC on December 3rd, and talk to be broadcast by CSPAN.

Bradley Manning took the stand for the first time this week at the motions hearings addressing his unlawful pretrial punishment at Quantico prison. Three mental health professionals who evaluated Bradley during his nine month detention in the Quantico brig, revealed that Bradley Manning posed little to no risk and that their ongoing recommendations to remove Bradley from the aggravating and abusive conditions were ignored by the brig command.

Further, testimony by Quantico officers revealed that while brig officials claimed to be isolating Bradley due to his mental health, that in reality the high profile nature of the case, and a prior suicide at Quantico brig, had resulted in a highly sensitive environment where senior officers gave directives to have Bradley Manning held in an extreme "Prevention of Injury" (POI) status throughout his stay. This directive led to the unheard of situation where brig commanders ignored the recommendations of the mental health professionals, and left Bradley Manning to endure nine months in solitary, segregated, conditions that a psychiatrist associated with interrogation techniques harsher than the treatment he had seen given to deathrow inmates.

Further, officials deceived Bradley as to the reasons he was being kept in segregated POI status. Bradley's calls to improve his situation were ignored by the military command, and it was revealed that Quantico commanders colluded to block an independant review of his conditions.

Supporters out in the rain during the November 27th Protest at Fort Meade

In defending the Quantico command decisions to keep Bradley Manning isolated in Prevention of Injury status, officers attempted to portray normal behaviors as being erratic - such as that he would dance in his cell and make faces in a mirror.

Bradley took the stand Thursday, testifying that yes indeed he danced in his cell as there was little else he could do. He was not permitted to lean his back against the walls of his cell during day hours, nor was he allowed to exercise in it. Dancing was however not a prohibited activity and it allowed him to move around.

Bradley also testified that yes, indeed, he spend a lot of time looking in the mirror as "it was the most interesting thing in his cell." Considering that he was not permitted to communicate with people or do anything else, three mental health professionals testified that this behavior was not only normal, but healthy, and that Bradley did a remarkable job enduring such a prolongued and abusive incarceration.

It was also revealed that the Quantico brig was ill prepared for long term pretrial confinement as it lacked the necessary staff to handle Bradley's detainment, and that in fact, it was not prepared to handle any detainee for longer than three months. Contrasts were drawn against other prisons, such as Ft. Leavenworth where Bradley was eventually transfered, where keeping prisoners isolated for so long was unheard of, and completely against regulation.

Reporting from the Courtroom - click on each item below the date to read the item

November 27th

"Military feared independent reviews of Bradley’s treatment"

November 28th

"Quantico psychiatrist says Bradley treated worse than death row"

November 29th.

"Bradley takes the stand to describe abuse, brig deception"

Watch the report from Democracy Now!

Exclusive presentation by Bradley's attorney

Washington DC. December 3rd

Talk will be broadcast on CSPAN and live streamed at www.bradleymanning.org December 3, 2012
Washington, DC
6pm doors/refreshments - 7pm event
All Souls Church Unitarian
1500 Harvard Street Northwest, Washington, DC 20009
(2 blocks from the Columbia Hts Metro Station, Yellow/Green lines; also near the S2, S4, H8 and 42 bus lines)

On December 3, 2012, Army PFC Bradley Manning’s civilian defense lawyer David Coombs will make his first ever public appearance to provide an overview of pending defense motions before the court and other facts regarding U.S. v. Manning. Mr. Coombs is expected to focus on the unlawful pretrial punishment that PFC Manning was subjected to for nine months while at the Marine Corps Base, Quantico, Virginia – the subject of international outrage and a UN investigation.


This article appeared in The Age newspaper on 3 DECEMBER 2012:

Whistleblower's treatment exposes dark side of Obama

December 3, 2012
By Glenn Greenwald

America's behaviour towards Bradley Manning is revealing.

Wikileaks suspect testifies at hearing

US army private Bradley Manning, takes the stand at his trial, where he faces suspicion of leaking secret documents to the WikiLeaks website.

More video:

The Wikileaks Whistleblower

• The Bradley Manning story, watch the 20-minute mini-documentary on .tv

OVER the past 2½ years, all of which he has spent in a military prison, much has been said about Bradley Manning, but nothing has been heard from him. That changed late last week, when the 23-year-old US army private, who is accused of leaking classified documents to WikiLeaks, testified at his court martial about the conditions of his detention.

The oppressive, borderline-torturous measures he endured, including prolonged solitary confinement and forced nudity, have been known for some time. A formal UN investigation denounced them as ''cruel and inhuman''. President Barack Obama's State Department spokesman, retired air force colonel P.J. Crowley, resigned after condemning Manning's treatment. A prison psychologist testified last week that Manning's conditions were more damaging than those found on death row, or at Guantanamo Bay.

Barack Obama ... his treatment of Manning a "disgrace". Photo: Reuters Still, hearing the accused whistleblower's description of this abuse in his own words viscerally conveyed its horror.

''If I needed toilet paper I would stand to attention and shout: 'Detainee Manning requests toilet paper!','' Manning said. And: ''I was authorised to have 20 minutes' sunshine, in chains, every 24 hours.'' Early in his detention, he recalled, ''I had pretty much given up. I thought I was going to die in this eight-by-eight animal cage.''

The repressive treatment of Manning is one of the disgraces of Obama's first term and highlights many of the dynamics shaping his presidency. He not only defended Manning's treatment, but also, as commander-in-chief of the court martial judges, improperly decreed Manning's guilt when he asserted that he ''broke the law''.

Bradley Manning. Photo: AP

Worse, Manning is charged not only with disclosing classified information but of ''aiding the enemy'', for which the death penalty can be imposed (military prosecutors are seeking ''only'' life in prison).

The US government's radical theory is that, although Manning had no intent to do so, the leaked information could have helped al-Qaeda, a theory that essentially equates any disclosure of classified information - by any whistleblower or a newspaper - with treason.

Whatever one thinks of Manning's alleged acts, he appears the classic whistleblower. This information could have been sold for substantial sums to a foreign government or a terrorist group. Instead he apparently knowingly risked his liberty to show them to the world because - he said when he believed he was speaking in private - he wanted to start ''worldwide discussion, debates and reforms''.

Compare the aggressive prosecution of Manning to the US administration's vigorous efforts to shield Bush-era war crimes and massive Wall Street fraud from legal accountability. Not a single perpetrator of those crimes has faced court under Obama, a comparison that reflects the priorities and values of US justice.

Then there's the behaviour of Obama's loyalists.

Ever since I first reported the conditions of Manning's detention in December 2010, many of them not only cheered that abuse but grotesquely ridiculed concerns about it. Joy-Ann Reid, a former Obama press aide and now a contributor on the progressive network MSNBC, sadistically mocked the report: ''Bradley Manning has no pillow?????''. With that, she echoed one of the most extreme right-wing websites, RedState, which identically mocked the report: ''Give Bradley Manning his pillow and blankie back.'' They hold themselves out as adversarial watchdogs, but nothing provokes the animosity of establishment journalists more than someone who challenges government actions.

Typifying this mentality was a CNN interview on Thursday night with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. It was to focus on documents revealing secret efforts by US officials to pressure financial institutions to block WikiLeaks' funding, a form of extra-legal punishment that should concern everyone, particularly journalists.

But the CNN host was uninterested. Instead she tried to get Assange to condemn the press policies of Ecuador, a tiny country that exerts no influence. To the mavens of the US press, Assange and Manning are enemies to be scorned because they did the job that the press refuses to do: namely, bring transparency to the bad acts of the US government and its allies.

Manning has bestowed the world with multiple vital benefits. But as his court martial finally reaches its conclusion, one likely to result in a long prison term, it appears his greatest gift is this window into America's political soul.

Glenn Greenwald is a columnist on civil liberties and US national security issues for The Guardian.


World AIDS day has been and gone but you wouldn't have noticed anything out of the ordinary from the Federal government.

During the past year it has been noticeable how in the federal parliament when parliamentarians are shown, they have more often than not -symbolic only, of course - worn something or other in their lapels or on their garments to indicate their "theoretical" support for an issue of "national" importance.

For World AIDS Day, despite statistics showing that the numbers of new infections had risen beyond what is reasonable in 2012 considering that educational programmes have been around for well over 25 years, the federal government totally ignored the Day! Even Obama managed to recognise the event, despite the United States' appalling record locally and internationally on HIV/AIDS support.

The current Australian parliament, and in this respect I mean all politicians of all flavours, left -ha ha ha -, right and centre - well left of extreme right ignored World AIDS Day as if the issue was irrelevant in this country.

When the next out-of-control disaster occurs, Australia will be less prepared than many countries with very poor infrastructures and resources, but who are aware of the daily HIV rates and their ongoing crisis figures.

Here is the World AIDS clock which gives a picture of the ongoing unfolding crises:


To find out the number of people living with HIV/AIDS worldwide, click on the above link

02 December 2012


The latest attack by Israel on Gaza and the United Nations approval of Palestine to have observer status at the UN has produced some dramatic results which the zionists seem not to have anticipated.

The facts on the ground are that there is more and more opposition to Israel and the zionists than there has ever been before, and there are signs that young people in the United States are no longer following their elders blindly into unthinking support for the US support of the state of Israel and the loud cries of AIPAC to make them toe the "party line"!.

In Australia the latest outcry from the zionists and the rabid religious right fundamentalist rabbis and their supporters such as the Australian Jewish News aka the Israeli zionist times is because of some recent cartoonists such as Leunig and Petty.

They are now labelled with that catch-all cry "ANTI-SEMITES!".

Here are the three cartoons at the centre of the argument and here are some Jewish commentators:

From the Australian jewish news aka Israel Zionist times:

The Age defends cartoons

November 30, 2012

THE editor-in-chief of The Age has defended a series of cartoons published over the last week, one of which the B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation Commission (ADC) labelled as “virulent hate-speech”, that have outraged the Melbourne Jewish community.

A cartoon by Michael Leunig last Wednesday (see the first cartoon above) adapted German pastor Martin Niemoeller’s famous “First they came for the Jews” statement about the apathy of German intellectuals following the Nazi rise to power, changing it to “First they came for the Palestinians”.

The cartoon then states: “I did not speak out because if I did, doors would close to me, hateful mail would arrive, bitterness and spiteful condemnations would follow.”

ADC chairperson Dvir Abramovich said the cartoon “crossed the line”, using anti-Semitic words and themes.

“‘They’ of course referred to the Nazis. In Leunig’s cartoon, however, it is the Israelis who are the Nazis,” he said. “Leunig’s second anti-Semitic theme [is] that anyone who supports the Palestinians will immediately be besieged by the all-powerful Jewish lobby. This is the kind of hateful rhetoric you would expect on anti-Semitic websites, not The Age.”

A second Leunig cartoon on Saturday (see second cartoon above)portrayed a character – presumably Jewish – at Mount Sinai receiving the commandment “Thou shalt not kill” before shooting both Moses and God dead, then standing on the mountain wearing God’s crown. Then a Bruce Petty cartoon on Monday, November 26, (third cartoon above)showed a boat of Palestinians with the banner “The Right of Return – UN” approaching a heavily fortified and armed Israel flying the banner “The Right to be Here – Bible”.

“This not only ignores the unquestionable fact that the UN created the modern Jewish State, but also overlooks thousands of years of Jewish history in the Land of Israel,” Abramovich said.

Defending the cartoons, Age editor-in-chief Andrew Holden said the cartoonists were all “very experienced, and well aware of the sensitivities around Middle East politics”.

“However, they are also entitled to express their personal opinions, even if these are challenging.”

But Abramovich said there was a “clear moral difference” between something that was challenging and something that was racist. “The same applies to something that is a lie. I strongly suggest that editors have a responsibility to their readers to prevent both of the foregoing,” he added.


From the age newspaper 301112

Leunig's cartoon deserves a more thoughtful Jewish response

November 30, 2012
By Harold Zwier

The power of a cartoon lies in the many ways it can be interpreted.

ON NOVEMBER 21, The Age published a cartoon by Michael Leunig which commented on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The device Leunig used was a parody of the famous poem by Lutheran pastor Martin Niemoller about the need to be vocal when one sees a wrong - even if not directly affected by it.

First they came for the communists, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew.
Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me.

There are variations to the poem and it seems it was first used in speeches Niemoller gave in 1946. In Leunig's cartoon there are four frames to match the four stanzas of the original poem. There is an almost universal view in the leadership of the Victorian Jewish community that Leunig's cartoon is anti-Semitic. The media release from the B'nai B'rith Anti-Defamation Commission quoted chairman Dr Dvir Abramovich presenting the following arguments to support that claim.

'''First they came …' introduces a celebrated statement attributed to German pastor Martin Niemoller about the apathy of German intellectuals following the Nazi rise to power and their gradual elimination of certain groups. 'They' of course referred to the Nazis. In Leunig's cartoon, however, it is the Israelis who are the Nazis.

''And Leunig's second anti-Semitic theme? That anyone who supports the Palestinians will immediately be besieged by the all-powerful Jewish lobby, similarly jackbooted, treading on all who oppose them, closing doors in their faces, spiteful, hateful and bitter. In Leunig's black-and-white world, Palestinian/Arab/Muslim lobby groups are muzzled and The Age would never dare to publish an article (or cartoon) critical of Israel.''

My reaction to the cartoon was very different. The power of a cartoon is in the many ways in which it can be interpreted. Once the cartoon is in the public domain it lives its own life - as indeed does Niemoller's poem. My comments should therefore be understood to reflect a personal view.

That Leunig comes to his cartoon with the perspective of a Palestinian supporter merely sets the scene. The baseline of the cartoon is that Palestinians are always the victims. We know this isn't a universal truth, but the cartoon isn't a balanced dissertation on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict - it's a cartoon. It uses exaggeration to tell us something.

The parody of Niemoller's language is playful: ''First they came for the Palestinians … Then they came for more … '' And in this respect Leunig can be criticised - or maybe he is being self-critical. Is he being too playful about the plight of the Palestinians in complaining overtly about silence as a form of tacit acceptance and covertly that publicly criticising Israeli treatment of Palestinians will be met with anger - from ''the all-powerful Jewish lobby'', to quote Dr Abramovich?

However the cartoon is also clever, because the reaction of the Jewish community as articulated in the Anti-Defamation Commission media release is in fact encapsulated within the cartoon. As Leunig said, ''bitterness and spiteful condemnations would follow'', duly obliged by Dr Abramovich in his comments. And so the Jewish community has been wedged. A more thoughtful response might have been to silently reflect on the sometimes appalling and disgraceful level of the debate about the conflict - and not just from one side. However, the genuinely held perception of anti-Semitism mandated a public response.

The Jewish community is a wonderful community, but sometimes I wish it was a little less weighed down by its collective memory and a little more informed by it. Sigh.

Perhaps, in the end, we might ask whether the cartoon is really about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, or in fact about the conflict between the Jewish community and Leunig. It's all a question of perception and interpretation - the power of the cartoon.

Harold Zwier is on the executive of the Australian Jewish Democratic Society.

24 November 2012


With sincere apologies to Irving Berlin, who could have written this specially for Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott:


Anything You Can Do.....

Anything you can do,
I can do better.
I can do anything
Better than you.

No, you can't.
Yes, I can. No, you can't.
Yes, I can. No, you can't.
Yes, I can,
Yes, I can!

Anything you can be
I can be greater.
Sooner or later,
I'm greater than you.

No, you're not. Yes, I am.
No, you're not. Yes, I am.
No, you're NOT!. Yes, I am.
Yes, I am!

I can shoot a partridge
With a single cartridge.
I can get a sparrow
With a bow and arrow.
I can live on bread and cheese.
And only on that?
So can a rat!
Any note you can reach
I can go higher.
I can sing anything
Higher than you.
No, you can't. (High)
Yes, I can. (Higher) No, you can't. (Higher)
Yes, I can. (Higher) No, you can't. (Higher)
Yes, I can. (Higher) No, you can't. (Higher)
Yes, I can. (Higher) No, you can't. (Higher)
Yes, I CAN! (Highest)

Anything you can buy
I can buy cheaper.
I can buy anything
Cheaper than you.

Fifty cents?
Forty cents! Thirty cents?
Twenty cents! No, you can't!
Yes, I can,
Yes, I can!
Anything you can say
I can say softer.
I can say anything
Softer than you.
No, you can't. (Softly)
Yes, I can. (Softer) No, you can't. (Softer)
Yes, I can. (Softer) No, you can't. (Softer)
Yes, I can. (Softer)
YES, I CAN! (Full volume)
I can drink my liquor
Faster than a flicker.
I can drink it quicker
And get even sicker!
I can open any safe.
Without bein' caught?
That's what I thought--
you crook!
Any note you can hold
I can hold longer.
I can hold any note
Longer than you.

No, you can't.
Yes, I can No, you can't.
Yes, I can No, you can't.
Yes, I can
Yes, I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I No, you C-A-A-A-A-A-A-A-A-A-A-A-A-N'T--
CA-A-A-A-N! (Cough, cough!)
Yes, you ca-a-a-an!

Anything you can wear
I can wear better.
In what you wear
I'd look better than you.
In my coat?
In your vest! In my shoes?
In your hat! No, you can't!
Yes, I can
Yes, I CAN!
Anything you can say
I can say faster.
I can say anything
Faster than you.
No, you can't. (Fast)
Yes, I can. (Faster) No, you can't. (Faster)
Yes, I can. (Faster) Noyoucan't. (Faster)
YesIcan! (Fastest)
I can jump a hurdle.
I can wear a girdle.
I can knit a sweater.
I can fill it better!
I can do most anything!
Can you bake a pie? No.
Neither can I.
Anything you can sing
I can sing sweeter.
I can sing anything
Sweeter than you.
No, you can't. (Sweetly)
Yes, I can. (Sweeter) No, you can't. (Sweeter)
Yes, I can. (Sweeter) No, you can't. (Sweeter)
Yes, I can. (Sweeter) No, you can't, can't, can't (sweeter)
Yes, I can, can, can (Sugary)

Yes, I can! No, you can't!


In 1992 Paul Keating - he of the Australian Labor Party - established the first concentration camp to hold asylum seekers fleeing conditions in their countries of origin too unspeakable for most of us to be able to contemplate.

20 years later and the demonisation continues apace with most Australians conditioned by their media and politicians to believe that people fleeing terror are somehow criminals come to take their land away from them.

It occurs to some of us that most of the 22 or 23 million people now residing in this country are/were asylum seekers/refugees from somewhere where life was running the gamut of appalling to impossible.

Since white settlement in Australia from 1788 onwards in the country stolen from the original inhabitants who were murdered and enslaved in such significant numbers that there is but a small fraction remaining of the original aboriginal population, the settlers have been involved in wars and campaigns of a military nature in vast numbers of countries.

The wars being fought in countries with which Australia did not have basic problems and from which there were no threats to the sovereignty or security of Australia have been the cause of thousands of desperate people fleeing the murders and rapes of their countries and themselves, and they have attempted to find safe haven in any countries which provided them with shelter, food, employment and the chance of survival.

So here we sit in a land of plenty with the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer and we are doing our best to ensure drownings at sea of desperate people will continue while we continue wars in their countries.


23 November 2012


The following item comes from Antony Loewenstein's blog on 23 November 2012:

19 November 2012


Five ways to effectively support Gaza through Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions

Posted on November 18, 2012 by Palestinian BDS National Committee Share on facebookShare on twitterShare on emailShare on printMore Sharing Services

As this new aggression on the people of Gaza shows, Israel will continue its belligerence and state terrorism unless it is made to pay a heavy price for its crimes against the Palestinian, Lebanese and other Arab peoples.

Palestinian civil society has called for a campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) as the most effective way for international civil society and people of conscience around the world to show solidarity with the Palestinian struggle and hold Israel – and all complicit institutions — accountable for its occupation, colonization and apartheid. The global, Palestinian-led BDS movement has achieved inspiring and spectacular success, causing economic damage to companies that support Israel’s crimes, persuading artists not to perform in Israel, winning support from major churches, trade unions and social movements, as well as pressuring governments to take action.

Here are five BDS ways to effectively express solidarity with the Palestinian people in Gaza and elsewhere:

1. Boycott Israel! Don’t buy Israeli goods!

Profits from exports from Israel help to fund the Israeli government and its crimes against the Palestinian people. Refuse to buy Israeli goods and tell retailers that you are doing it. Persuade friends and family to stop buying any Israeli products too!

Brands to avoid include Ahava, Jaffa oranges, Sabra and Tribe hummus and SodaStream.

2. Join an active BDS campaign or start a new one

Initiate action in your institution, union, group, etc., against the companies and organisations that support and profit from Israel’s system of oppression over the Palestinian people.

For example, in the US, campaigners have pressured major pension funds to divest from Caterpillar, a company that provides bulldozers used to destroy Palestinian homes.

Public bodies across the world have been successfully pressured to stop awarding contracts for public services to Veolia, a company that provides infrastructure to illegal Israeli settlements. Veolia has lost contracts worth more than $14bn following BDS campaigns.

Campaigners recently persuaded a major bank to divest from G4S, a private security firm involved in Israel’s crimes against Palestinian prisoners, including children.

You can find out more about campaigns taking place in your area by contacting your local Palestine solidarity organisation. There’s a great online database of Palestine solidarity groups here or contact us for advice on whom to contact or on how to start a new BDS campaign.

3. Organise a BDS protest action

Demonstrations, banner drops and flashmobs are great ways to raise awareness of the boycott of Israel. Some actions target particular products, like the actions against Israeli cosmetics company Ahava, while others take place in supermarkets and remind shoppers not to buy Israeli goods or to target complicit companies.

There’s a useful guide to planning a BDS action here. The guide is written specifically for the Ahava campaign, but it’s full of useful ideas for similar campaigns too.

4. Urge organisations that you are a member of to divest from Israel

Trade unions, student unions, faith groups and other organisations all over the world have passed BDS-related resolutions calling for divesting from companies profiting from Israel’s occupation.

The US Quakers’ investment entity recently sold its shares in Hewlett Packard and Veolia, two companies supporting and profiting from Israeli violations of international law, after having divested from Caterpillar a few months ago for the same reasons.

Student unions around the world have voted to support divestment and have successfully campaigned to have companies like Sabra Hummus and Eden Springs removed from their campuses.

Trade unions can participate in BDS campaigns and sell any investments they may hold in Israeli companies or raise rank-and-file awareness about Israeli products to boycott.

Ask organisations that you’re a member of to hold a meeting to discuss education about and support for the BDS campaign, and find out if it’s possible to pass a resolution to support BDS when the time is right.

5. Pressure your elected officials to impose a military embargo on Israel

Military ties with Israel feed and encourage further Israeli violence. Israel wouldn’t be able to maintain its occupation and apartheid system over the Palestinian people if it wasn’t for the military aid it receives from the US or the military trade it conducts with countries around the world. Urge your government and elected representatives to support a military embargo on Israel.

6. (added by red-jos) Intel, made in Israel and installed in most computers - DON'T BUY!

Each time you buy a new computer, the chances are that it will operate on an Intel system, made in Israel. Intel is installed in most devices which help Israel to do its dirty work in the West Bank and Gaza. Next time you buy a new computer, whether notebook, laptop or PC, see whether Intel is installed. If so. buy the alternative operating system, AMD, and hope its components are not also made in Israel.

18 November 2012


This article appeared in The Age newspaper on Saturday 17 November 2012. Chrissie Foster and her family have waited a long time for this to happen. Now that it has been announced by the federal government, let us hope that the terms of the royal commission will not be full of weasel words that allow the Catholic church an out to escape the blame and responsibility of all these decades of obfuscation and hiding behind their "traditions" such as confessionals and the like. Pell defrocked? Now that would be something to behold!

So much heartbreak, so much pain, it's about time

November 17, 2012
By Chrissie Foster
Happy bedtime: Chrissie Foster with Aimee, Emma and Katie before their world was shattered.
I COULD never stand to live in a world without justice and truth: at last there will be a platform for both. Prime Minister Julia Gillard's announcement of a royal commission on child sexual abuse has brought to an end the cries from victims and victim supporters. Of course, there have been many tears this week. More will be shed. But the royal commission is a cause for celebration.
For my family, the struggle to achieve this breakthrough began 16 years ago, on March 26, 1996. This was the day my daughter Emma, after almost a year of starving her 13-year-old body to an emaciated 41 kilograms, numerous self-harming horrors and attempts to take her own life, disclosed that our parish priest had sexually assaulted her. Not once, but on many occasions over her primary school years.
Fifteen months later more horror and heartbreak surfaced through a half-finished suicide note from our second daughter, Katie. She had hidden the note in a shoebox. It was written in her very neatest handwriting. Katie had been another victim of our parish priest.
There was no cure for my much-loved daughters. The pain never leaves. After years of subsequent torment, Emma took her own life at the age of 26. Katie, while drunk after binge drinking, was hit by a car in 1999 (she was 15) and still receives 24-hour care as a result of her injuries.
There are many of these stories. Ours is not rare. The Prime Minister's announcement was a godsend, proof that our many voices have been heard and believed, at long last. It feels like justice. The burning truth has ignited a light and we must shine it on the Catholic Church because of its cover-up. The Catholic hierarchy fiercely lobbied against a royal commission. But a royal commission had to be called. The claim from the hierarchy and biased commentators - that the Catholic Church is no different to other organisations in relation to child sex crimes and cover-ups - is nonsense. On the first day of the Victorian parliamentary inquiry I sat and listened to the evidence of Victoria Police and three professors.
All stated they would speak only about the Catholic Church. They based their submissions on records and research. Facts. Catholic Church sex offenders committed six times more sexual assaults on children than all the other religions combined. At least one in 20 Melbourne priests was a child sex offender, but the real figure was probably one in 15. There was a systemic obstruction of police inquiries over five decades.
Officers in two police forces - Victoria and New South Wales - have made allegations of extensive church interference with investigations. The royal commission should look closely at this. It should examine the influence of the religious leaders on police and governments.
Why did state governments allow the church's flawed and destructive Melbourne Response and Towards Healing schemes to exist unchallenged for more than 15 years? At his media conference on Tuesday, Cardinal George Pell, ignoring the Victorian inquiry's expert evidence, chose to blame the ''press'' for a ''smear'' campaign against the Catholic Church. But the media is not the problem. Along with brave victims willing to go to police despite their trauma, the ''press'' has helped find a solution. If journalists had not written and broadcast stories of crimes and cover-ups, the likes of Father Gerald Ridsdale and countless other convicted criminal priests would still be celebrating Mass in Australia's Catholic parishes.
One thing is certain: the priesthood never lifted a finger to protect children from ongoing sexual assaults and rapes. Rather, the church paid for the paedophiles' legal defences. Not one priest or brother did it help jail.
Cardinal Pell said the confessional seal was ''inviolable''. I say the lives and bodies of our children are inviolable. Why should a foreign state law - the Vatican's Canon Law - override our Australian laws in protecting our children?
To understand why the confessional seal must be broken to protect children, we need only look at evidence given to a Queensland court in 2004. Father Michael McArdle, after pleading guilty to and being convicted of child sexual assault offences, swore an affidavit. In it he stated he had confessed to sexually assaulting children 1500 times to 30 different priests over a 25-year period.
Every one of those ''good'' priests, as if of one mind and voice, said to the criminal: ''Go home and pray.'' Is that what they are taught to say to each other when told of such crimes? Not one of the 30 priests urged him to get help or go to police. Nor did they report his crimes. The victims were abandoned to become hurting adults, their lives shattered. Distraught. Suicidal.
This is a rare insight into the secret world of paedophile priest confession. We must learn from it. The church system was designed to protect the priest and church from scandal. It was not established to consider the futures of Australia's children. We must not be distracted by the confusion and side issues thrown our way by the church hierarchy.
If mandatory reporting had been enforced at McArdle's first confession, then the next 25 years of pain and suffering for children would never have occurred. The guilt of which he was unburdened though confession only served him to reoffend within the same week. Cardinal Pell said he welcomed the royal commission. Why then did he deny its need just the previous day and the 20 years before?
Recently he spoke of a ''cancer'' in the church. He is part of that cancer. Perhaps it is time for Cardinal Pell to step down and hand over to another cleric who possesses some empathy and compassion for children.
As for the royal commission, the government must strive to write the best terms of reference that encompass the essential need to expose child sexual assault and its cover-up in organisations.
Justice and accountability are needed for past crimes against children. Though it will not help my daughters, this will ensure change and safety for all future children. Only with this reality will victims become survivors.
Chrissie Foster is the co-author of "Hell On The Way To Heaven".

16 November 2012


It is a well-known fact that when human rights activists attack Israel and its ongoing apartheid treatment of the Palestinians, the two standard responses are "anti-semitic" and "look at countries such as........." "why don't you attack them?" "Why don't you look at their appalling behaviour to gays and lesbian?" This last statement because the attacks on Israel - "The Only Democracy in The Middle East" by a gay person are to show how one-sided and lacking in understanding these homosexuals are!!! Israel doesn't behave like that to its GLTH communities.

Now look at the outcry from the Catholic church hierarchy over the calls for a royal commission into the ongoing child sex abuses committed by priests and others in the system over at least the last 50 years - and no doubt the previous 500 years as well!!

"Why is the Catholic church singled out when there are others guilty of committing these crimes in other religions and in the wider community in general?

The similarity hits one when one makes analyses of the current and ongoing situations in the Vatican and Jerusalem - the world is grossly unfair and prejudiced when singling us out - we are not like we have been painted and others are much worse and commit crimes against humanity of which we are not guilty !!

It has been interesting to hear how quickly the so-called democracies have rushed to defend Israel - "Israel is fully entitled to defend itself against aggression from the Palestians" - and from all sides of political spectra - and the same when a royal commission was announced into aspects of child sexual abuse - it will be wide ranging and the Prime Minister assured cardinal George Pell - he who is a man perpetually dressed in women's clothing - that the catholic church has not been singled out and other organisations will be scrutinised by the royal commission as well. Weasel words spoken by a weasel politician - well aren't most of them anyway?


Having upgraded my new computer which came with Windows 7 to Windows 8 from a special offer, I hadn't even got used to Windows 7 when I was trying to contend with Windows 8.

Windows 8 has some word programme which works without problems, but when I transferred my word documents from my old computer which runs on Windows XP to my new computer, this installed word programme didn't recognise the old word documents and told me to download Microsoft 2010.

When I tried to download Microsoft 2010 I was told I needed to insert the Product Key which came with Windows 8, so I duly tried to use it to download Microsoft 2010.

While typing in the Product Key - remember this was sent to me by Microsoft when I upgraded to Windows 8 from Windows 7 - I was told I was making an error because Product Keys did not have the letter "N" in them!!

This was an astonishing statement because I was typing in the Product Key from the email sent to me with the Windows 8 information!

It was fortunate that Charles Wright had written an article about Windows 8 in the "Livewire" section of that week's Greenguide programmes in The Age newspaper. I wrote to Charles Wright who sent me some possible links to download in order to have - once more - the start button so sorely lacking in Windows 8 together with all sorts of other necessary operating buttons such as had successfully operated Windows in all its manifestations over the last 20 years.

As I didn't succeed with those links I looked for others and found a most successful FREE DOWNLOAD link at


Next I reinstalled my original word programme from my Windows XP set of CDs and at last I was out of the woods.

Microsoft may think that Windows 8 is very "jazzy and snazzy" for those who use IPads and apps all the time, but it is hardly suitable for a PC, and this is what it is also supposed to be for.

Send Microsoft back to the drawing board - in my case, once bitten, twice shy!

09 November 2012


When we bought new computers in September from Officeworks they had Windowes 7 installed. There was an offer that came with the purchase which was that we could order Windows 8 for a special price until the end of January 2013, and we could install it on the new comupters.

The offer seemed too good to be true, and as it has turned out, it is too good to be true.

I have been using computers since 1980 with various operating systems and programmes, and in this 30-year period, NOTHING has been as user-unfriendly as Windows 8.

Did Microsoft really think they had something which would be in competition with Apple? If so, they have seriously miscalculated.

It is easy enough to get started, but it is downhill all the way after that.

All one has to do is put Windows 8 into a search engine with one of the problems one is having, and already, in such a short time, people are saying how appallling the system is!

I am thinking of uninstalling Windows 8 and going back to Windows 7, which, after many years of Window XP, was different but accessible.

It reminded me of a children's poem from many years ago which I have changed slightly for reasons which are obvious:

"Win 8 tumbled down the drain;
Couldn't scramble out again.
Now it's floating down the sewer,
And there's one Win 8 the fewer."

One thing is for certain and for sure - I will certainly wait to let new operating systems settle down before rushing in to buy because of special offers - which in the light of our experiences did not seem to have been the best decision. Just remember what happened to Windows Vista which was somewhat of a disaster, and probably Windows 8 will prove to be the same!

04 November 2012


Rupert Murdoch is infamous for his homophobia, and every time one thinks he can't sink any lower, he does!! The article below, from the online UK Gay Star News on 30 October 2012, is one of the latest illustrations of this disgusting, disgraceful organisation!

Gay Star News from UK - 30 October 2012

Right-wing newspaper greets gay candidate’s election victory with slurs Australia’s Daily Telegraph prints article that ‘leaks’ newly elected Sydney MP Alex Greenwich’s ‘party past’

By Anna Leach

Australia’s Daily Telegraph newspaper greeted the landslide victory of marriage equality campaigner Alex Greenwich with a story that ‘leaked’ his ‘party past’. The article attempted to disparage Greenwich, who has worked with utmost professionalism as national convenor of Australian Marriage Equality and during his election campaign for independent MP for Sydney, which he won by a wide margin on Saturday.

In a piece that appears to be motivated by homophobia, journalist Andrew Clennell reveals that Greenwich ‘used to organise risque beach parties at Bondi to raise cash for gay lifesavers’.

Discussing the parties, Greenwich said the Star Observer:

‘I’m really proud of the work we did in raising funds for charities like Movember and Lifesavers with Pride… There’s nothing secret about these parties, they were open and on the public record it was reported at the time; obviously they are trying to beat up this in an attempt to try and sledge me, but I think The Daily Telegraph attempts to sledge me have backfired.’

Clennell also described Greenwich as ‘the latest homosexual in parliament’. In response Greenwich tweeted:

‘I've dealt with homophobia ever since coming out. The Daily Telegraph's headline on me is water off a gay ducks back.’

On his Facebook page, Greenwich posted a photo of him and previous Sydney MP Clover Moore at a children’s dance class with the tongue-in-cheek message:

‘Because I like dance music so much, I spent the morning at Junior Jivers at the Wayside Chapel. Clover and I enjoyed doing the hokey pokey together... don't tell the telegraph!’

Greenwich’s predecessor Clover Moore tweeted: ‘Yes, he’s gay & hosted fundraisers - but @alexgreenwich also admitted to me that he used to play bridge’.




03 November 2012

Open letter to the surviving Rivonia Trialists

Sent by email from South Africa dated 29 October 2012

Open letter to the surviving Rivonia Trialists

By Kay Sexwale
Dear Ahmed Kathrada, Andre w Mlangeni, Dennis Goldberg and Nelson Mandela, I greet you all in the name of the continuing economic freedom struggle of our people.
Your courage in fighting for the emancipation of our country is greatly appreciated.
I was fed ANC propaganda with my Purity baby food, but I believe the time has come to consciously choose South Africa over the ANC.
The governing party, for many, is like a religion, followed by many without question or doubt.
Surely comrades, your sacrifices were not for a one-party, one-trade union state?
The time for a younger, patriotic and selfless leadership, like yours in 1964, is here.
The thinking public laments our bumpy transition from liberation movement to political party, with some pointing out that a liberation movement has to be centralised and secretive while a modern party in government must be influenced by its members and society, and so be more transparent.
The loss of public trust through daily media exposure of the plague of government corruption, which appears to be condoned by the ANC, is deeply seated.
The public perception is that the Mangaung leadership debate will boil down to who will continue to allow rampant looting of state resources, the dangerous slippery slope of tribalism, or who might make a difference.
Truth be told, the names being bandied about as top contenders are all synonymous with the rot that plagues the movement.
The masses so loved by political party leaders at election time have taken to the streets to voice their dissatisfaction.
Earlier this year, even middle-class a­rmchair critics put on their designer sneakers and marched against ­e-tolling, also reportedly shrouded in corruption and an added burden on our ridiculously taxed wallets.
In March, Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa informed Parliament that between 2007 and 2010, the most common reason for police crowd management of gatherings was labour-related demands for increases in wages, and that unrest requiring police intervention was related to service delivery issues.
Later in June, City Press reported that 372 protests related to service delivery had been recorded between January and the end of May this year alone.
In 18 years of democracy, we can still blame apartheid for many social ills, but we must also blame our leaders.
The disgraceful and shocking non-delivery of textbooks in Limpopo left me cold.
But the worst thing that broke the soul of South Africa during this fateful year of the ANC’s centenary was the shameful Marikana massacre, reminiscent of the Sharpeville slaughter.
It highlighted aspects of every ill plaguing black society under an ANC-led government: police brutality, wage strikes, corporate greed, failure of natural mineral resource redistribution, flawed implementation of black economic empowerment, violent crime, service-delivery failure, including inhumane slum settlements, unemployment concerns and much more.
The man who shoved his way to the front, taking the reins of leadership in this sorry mess, was Julius Malema, a spat-out child of the movement. In the space of a few days, he single-handedly nullified what little trust I had left in the aging ANC leadership.
I was raised by courageous men and women, people like you, the Rivonia Trialists, who now need me to tell them it’s time to let go.
The ANC has never been as self-destructive as it is today.
Cosatu, the ANC-aligned trade union federation, has driven the economy into free fall as the failure of their collective bargaining strategy, designed to perpetuate the racist status quo, is blowing up in our faces with one strike after another.
I’m waiting for them to stop blaming third-force right wing elements and take some responsibility.
And let me not get started on the recent madness of more than R200 million-worth of Nkandla renovations, SAA’s R5 billion bailout and the relentless e-toll attitude of government.
In 2009, I took longer than usual to vote in the booth, agonising over putting an X next to the face of a man I instinctively knew was bad news.
My love for the ANC won over my reservations.
In last year’s local government elections, I rebelled, voting for the ANC in my neighbourhood and for another party in the city.
I am sure Joburg Mayor Parks Tau is capable, but my rebellion against a President Jacob Zuma-led ANC began with that ballot paper.
To not vote at all in 2014, as many are threatening, will be to dishonour the memory of my uncle, Lesetja Sexwale, and his many fallen comrades who died in combat for my right to vote.
It will be to disrespect the struggle for which men and woman such as him, men like yourselves, sacrificed their youth.
Personally, it will be a betrayal of little Kay who was badly injured in a cross-border raid in Lesotho in 1982 when the apartheid forces were hunting down Umkhonto we Sizwe combatants like my father and Chris Hani.
I don’t know who I will vote for. All I know is that Zuma will never again hold office with my consent.
I know uncle Lesetja and uncle Chris would not view my choice as a betrayal of their sacrifices. I trust that you won’t either.
I choose South Africa .
Sexwale is a media and communication strategist with an interest in current affairs and post-apartheid experiences

22 October 2012


Informed Comment / By Juan Cole from AlterNet

Israeli Government Consciously Planned to Keep Palestinians "on a Diet", Controlling Their Food Supply, Damning Document Reveals

Israeli military forced to reveal that Israel calculated the amount of calories Palestinians would need to avoid malnutrition.

October 18, 2012

A demonstration against the assault on the Gaza Strip on January 02, 2009 at Old City, Jerusalem, Israel. Photo Credit: Mikhail Levit / Shutterstock.com

An Israeli human rights organization, Gisha, sued in Israeli courts to force the release of a planning document for ‘putting the Palestinians on a diet’ without risking the bad press of mass starvation, and the courts concurred. The document, produced by the Israeli army, appears to be a calculation of how to make sure, despite the Israeli blockade, that Palestinians got an average of 2279 calories a day, the basic need. But by planning on limiting the calories in that way, the Israeli military was actually plotting to keep Palestinians in Gaza (half of them children) permanently on the brink of malnutrition, what health professionals call “food insecurity”. And, it was foreseeable that sometimes they would slip into malnutrition, since not as many trucks were always let in every day as the Israeli army recommended (106 were recommended, but it was often less in the period 2007-2010).

Planning for keeping people on the edge is nearly as bad as planning actually to starve them. A prudent person would know that a blockade is a blunt enough instrument, with shipments up and down in a given week, that such a policy would from time to time produce real misery. Were any physicians involved? They should be boycotted by the international community.

And, the Israeli army’s way of trying to minimize the document must be the worst example of propaganda in history! They are saying that the plan was produced but not consulted. But this document aimed at making sure just enough trucks got in to keep people on the edge. If the government didn’t consult it, does that mean it did not care if the food shipments slipped below the basic calorie allowance? Wouldn’t it have been better if they had known about the 106-truck recommendation?

The food blockade had real effects. About ten percent of Palestinian children in Gaza under 5 have had their growth stunted by malnutrition.

A recent report [pdf] by Save the Children and Medical Aid for Palestinians found that, in addition, anemia is widespread, affecting over two-thirds of infants, 58.6 percent of schoolchildren, and over a third of pregnant mothers.

I mean, don’t those figures make you want to do something for those mothers and children? Wouldn’t they melt anyone’s heart?

Although, under international pressure, the Israeli government eased its blockade slightly in 2010, and foodstuffs are no longer interdicted, it still limits imports into Gaza, and its wide-ranging ban on exports has thrown Palestinians into unemployment at Depression levels, imperiling their ability to afford food even when it is available.

A UN Report out last month predicts that if Israel does not change its policies toward Gaza, the strip will be uninhabitable by 2020, when the population will likely be 2.1 million (think Houston). The deterioration of the water, and the sharp downward mobility of the Palestinians, are only some of the problems the territory will face.

Note that the Israeli government did not voluntarily cease its policy of keeping Palestinians on a diet in 2010. It was forced to by Turkish and European aid activists, and 9 people, one an American citizen, were martyred for this change when Israeli commandos illegally boarded a civilian, unarmed ship in international waters and shot it up.

In any case, there are other ways to starve out the people of Gaza than bluntly preventing food from coming in. Nobel-prize-winning economist Amartya Sen showed that the real cause of famines is not lack of food but that the price of the food rises above the ability of people to pay for it. By keeping Gaza on the edge of economic collapse, the Likud government has continued the food blockade by other means.

The Israeli members of Gisha, who are Mensches, care that their government is contributing in a systematic and deliberate way to damaging childrens’ health because of the way their parents voted in 2006! And they want to embarrass it into ceasing this illegal and inhumane treatment of people who are under Israeli military Occupation and protected from such measures by the Geneva Convention of 1949 (a convention on occupation designed to prevent a recurrence of the excesses and atrocities of the Fascist Powers in World War II, and which you would think an Israeli government would be embarrassed to contravene).

Aljazeera English has a video report, valuable because unlike CNN or other Western cable news channels, it actually interviews the Palestinians affected.

It is precisely because the Israeli blockade of Palestinian non-combatants in Gaza is considered creepy and evil not just by me but by any ethical personthat a number of European members of parliament have boarded the aid ship Estelle, and will make another attempt to deliver food and other aid to Gaza, despite Israeli threats.

The blockade has medical as well as nutritional bad effects. Palestinians in Gaza have to get Israeli permission (!) to leave the strip for medical care. Palestinian hospitals, having been starved of funds and materiel by Israel, are dilapidated. A study published this month in The Lancet found that 10% of such requests were delayed or rejected by Israeli authorities (the rejection or delay rate for the Palestinian territories over all is nearly a fifth). Israel’s delays murdered 6 Palestinians in Gaza last year, as surely as though they had been taken out and shot twice behind the ear. How would you like to have to apply to an arbitrary foreign government for permission to go next door to a neighboring country for medical care?

The [pdf] Lancet article says,

“In 2011, 1082 (10%) of 10,560 applicants in the Gaza Strip had their access permits denied or delayed, with no reason given, and 197 (2%) were called for security interview. Patients aged 18–40 years had the highest rate of denied or delayed permits. Tracer interviews with Gazan families of patients who had their permits denied or delayed showed that six patients died while waiting for the permits.”

The Gaza Strip is a small expanse of land on the coast of the Mediterranean to Israel’s southeast, which also borders on Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. Some 40% of its 1.7 million people are victims of Israel’s 1948 ethnic cleansing campaign, and many, having been chased off their farms and out of their homes by the military forces of the Yishuv (the Jewish settler community in British Mandate Palestine), still live, or their descendants do, in refugee camps. The territory was captured by Israel in 1967, and until 2005 Israelis were actually encouraged to colonize it. The Kadima government gave up on that enterprise, but did not let its Palestinian people go.

In January of 2006, Hamas won the elections for the Palestine Authority (it had been allowed to run at the insistence of Bush, who, however, backed down in a cowardly way from ‘democratization’ when the Israelis insisted that the outcome was unacceptable). The Bush administration and the Israeli government connived in staging a coup by Fateh in the West Bank. The coup failed in Gaza, where the elected Hamas government retained control.

From 2007, Israel imposed a blockade on the exports and imports of the Palestinians of the Gaza Strip. It vastly limited the number of trucks that were allowed in from Israel and disallowed most exports. Dov Weinglass, an aide to then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, announced that the Palestinians would be ‘put on a diet.’ That is, the Israeli government had decided to wage economic and nutritional warfare against the Palestinians.

Obviously, allowing them to become malnourished would raise an outcry even in an international community that typically allows Israel’s settler colonialism to get away with murder toward the Palestinians. So the policy was to keep the Palestinians “food insecure.” That is, they wouldn’t be starved, but they’d be one step away from starving — if they lost a source of income, for instance.

Wikileaks revealed a US embassy cable that confirmed, “As part of their overall embargo plan against Gaza, Israeli officials have confirmed to [U.S. embassy economic officers] on multiple occasions that they intend to keep the Gazan economy on the brink of collapse without quite pushing it over the edge…”

Note that the cowardly US government went along with this policy of ruining the lives of civilian non-combatants as a way of trying to defeat the Hamas party-militia (five years later, I think we can safely pronounce the policy a failure). The most horrible thing is that the Israelis, and the international community, have no long-term plans for Gaza. There is no light at the end of the tunnel. There is no vision for how this blockade of innocents will ever end. People pay lip service to a ‘two state solution,’ but everyone knows that Israel won’t allow the Palestinians to have a state! Although Qatar has just announced a multi-million-dollar aid program, it remains to be seen whether Israel will allow it. And, aid is secondary to the dignity of being citizens in a state, which is what Palestinians really need (the economic efflorescence would come from that statehood better than from outside charity). The people of Gaza are apparently to be kept in a large out-door concentration camp forever. Unless the world cares enough to rescue them from that fate.

04 October 2012


The worst apartheid in modern history

Palestinians not only endure a crushing occupation; Israel's apartheid system makes them pay for it as well, writes Mustafa Barghouthi - 3 October 2012 (from Al Ahram)
Frederick Douglass, the American orator, writer and social reformer who had escaped from slavery, wrote: "Knowledge makes a man unfit to be a slave."
What we need to do in Palestine is to develop a better knowledge and understanding of the system of slavery that Israel created, and that some of us do not see, whether out of ignorance, out of fear, or out of a sense of impotence in the face of this reality.
Modern history offers no equivalent to the perniciousness and repressiveness of the racist apartheid system. In the course of seven decades, official Israeli policy built itself on the cumulative products of three processes. The first was the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people, which reached its peak in 1948. The second was the longest foreign occupation in history. The third was the apartheid system that is more brutal than that which had existed in South Africa, to which testify the South African freedom fighters that visited us, such as Desmond Tutu.
Not only did Israel create what today amounts to six million Palestinian refugees who are deprived of the right to return, since 1948 it strove to deprive the Palestinians who remained in what became Israel of their land and to turn them into a source of cheap labour that remained under the thumb of military rule until 1966. Following the 1967 war, military rule moved to the West Bank, Gaza and Jerusalem, where military authorities set into motion a drive to steal Palestinian land, expropriate natural resources and deprive the occupied people of essential needs for subsistence.
Today, Israel controls 90 per cent of the water in the West Bank. It allows illegal settlements to consume 2,400 cubic metres of water per person per year, compared to less than 50 cubic metres of water per year per person for Palestinians. In other words, Israeli settlers are entitled to 48 times more water than Palestinians in the West Bank.
To add insult to injury, Israel forces the Palestinians to pay twice as much as Israelis do for the water and electricity they consume.
Consider, too, that per capita income in Israel is $32,000, as compared to less than $1,500 for Palestinians. Nevertheless, thanks to the Oslo Accords, the Paris Protocol on Economic Relations and the unified customs system, the Palestinians are forced to pay the same prices for goods as the average Israeli who earns 20 times more than they do.
Even at the height of the Jim Crow laws in the US and the apartheid system in South Africa there was nothing like the Israeli road system in the West Bank where many main roads are reserved for Israelis only. Palestinians have to take the long and rugged side roads while Israelis speed to their destinations on the smooth and well-paved highways made for them alone. Moreover, the Wadi Al-Nar road, which is meant for Palestinians and which was recently repaved with the assistance of USAID, suffers a chronic traffic jam at the checkpoint that Palestinians from the northern and central West Bank have to pass through on the way to the southern West Bank, and that the Israeli army can close off at whim should Israeli authorities deem it expedient to sever the West Bank into two.
Conditions are worse for the people of Gaza who have been the object of a six-year long inhuman campaign of collective punishment. In Gaza, water resources are running out and growing contaminated and unfit for human consumption, and frequent and long-lasting electricity cut-offs aggravate the hazards to health and compound the strains caused by shortages in basic needs for subsistence.
But perhaps one of the most telling features of the Israeli apartheid system is Qalqiliya. This city of 45,000 people is surrounded by a wall that is twice the height of the Berlin Wall. It has a single eight-metre wide entrance controlled by an Israeli-manned checkpoint that the army can close off just as any prison warden shuts the doors on the prison's inmates. Nor is this the only Palestinian town that has been turned into a jail; there are dozens of other towns and villages like it.
The situation in Susiya, a village in the area of Yata in the southern part of the West Bank, is particularly grim these days. The residents of this village, like those in seven other villages, had just been notified that their homes, primary school and their clinic, which is operated by the Palestinian Medical Relief agency, have been designated for demolition and that they, themselves, no longer have a right to remain on this land because the Israel army plans to use it for military training.
Life in the village had not been easy before this. One side is hemmed off by an Israeli-only highway and because of other forbidden roads, students have to trudge over six-kilometres of dirt roads, which turn into pools of mud in the winter, in order to reach their secondary school. A huge pipe passes through the village transporting freshwater from the West Bank to an illegal Israeli settlement that was built on what was once village land. The villagers have to purchase water from mobile tanks at the rate of 27 shekels per litre while the Israeli settlers only pay five shekels a litre for water that is conveniently piped straight into their houses.
I hardly need to mention how many helpless villagers from Susiya were arrested or attacked because they had the audacity to want to remain in their homes.
Apartheid is a system that provides for two different sets of laws for two peoples or ethnic groups on the same land. The Israeli apartheid system prohibits a Palestinian from Jerusalem from living with his wife and family because she is from Ramallah, 16 kilometres away. She does not have the right to join her husband in Jerusalem and if he moved to Ramallah he would lose his citizenship rights and, hence, not only his right to health insurance, for example, but his right to live in Jerusalem where he was born. Meanwhile, under Israeli law, a Jew from any part of the world has the right to obtain citizenship once he sets foot in Lod Airport, and to live anywhere he wants, whether in Israel or in occupied Jerusalem and the West Bank, which is most likely where the authorities will lure him through grants and other facilities meant to encourage settlers to set up home on expropriated Palestinian land.
The calamity is that the Palestinians have ended up paying the costs for the occupation and the systematic injustices visited upon them by the apartheid system through the fees and taxes that Israel exacts, the rates of which rise as Israeli authorities dictate.
The Israeli government has clearly made up its mind. It has put paid to the two-state solution and opted for an extensive system of apartheid. In the process, it has reduced the idea of a Palestinian state to a freakish "self-governing" entity whose duties entail performing the security services for the occupation in isolated cantons and Bantustans that are cut off from 60 per cent of the West Bank which, in turn, is cut off from Jerusalem and Gaza.
The time has come to let go of the illusions of the past, to acknowledge that Oslo and its protocols have failed and to resolve that the brutal apartheid system cannot continue. As Henry Thoreau said: "Revolt against tyranny is the basis of liberty."
Palestinians will not be free and they will not see economic prosperity until they rebel against the system of Israeli apartheid.
The writer is a member of the Palestinian parliament and secretary-general of the Palestine National Initiative.

02 October 2012



SBS Television and advertisements

Target: SBS Management in Australia
Sponsored by: Mannie De Saxe

SBS television was started in Australia some 30 years ago to assist the multicultural aspects of modern Australia's changing demographics. SBS was funded by the federal government but successive governments reduced their budget, so SBS began putting commercial advertising at the beginning and end of their programmes in order to raise revenue.

When a new CEO was apponted some 10 years ago, he decided that if the advertisements were played in the middle of programmes, more revenue would be raised for the station. This ploy failed miserably, and as a consequence SBS lost viewers and the quality of its programmes deteriorated rapidly.

Now in 2012, SBS has a new management and this petition is to urge the new team to drop the advertisments in the middle of programmes. SBS used to have the best news bulletins of all tv stations in Australia, and, because of the advertisements, it has lost continuity and quality - and some of its best newsreaders!

We are hoping to get enough signatures on this petition to induce SBS management to reconsider, and restore the service to its former glory!


22 September 2012

It's Not about a film: The Real Reason Why the Middle East Exploded

From AlterNet 17 September 2012:

Consortium News / By Ray McGovern

It's Not About a Film: The Real Reason Why the Middle East Exploded The conventional wisdom about the recent explosion of protest in the Middle East--that Muslims are way too sensitive or irrational--is dead wrong.

September 17, 2012 |

A protest in Duraz, Bahrain against the anti-Islamic film that mocked the Prophet Muhammed. The banner (in Arabic) reads: "The Islamic nation will not tolerate with those who offend its sanctities."

Photo Credit: Mohamed CJ/Wikimedia Commons

“Why Is the Arab world so easily offended?” asks the headline atop an article by Fouad Ajami, which the Washington Post published online last Friday to give perspective to the recent anti-American violence in Muslim capitals.

While the Post described Ajami simply as a “senior fellow” at Stanford’s conservative Hoover Institution, Wikipedia gives a more instructive perspective on his checkered career and dubious credibility.

An outspoken supporter of the war on Iraq, Ajami was still calling it a “noble effort” well after it went south. He is a friend and colleague of one of the war’s intellectual authors, neocon Paul Wolfowitz, and also advised Condoleezza Rice. It was apparently Wolfowitz or Rice who fed Ajami’s analyses to then-Vice President Dick Cheney, who cited Ajami’s views repeatedly in speeches.

The most telling example of this came in Cheney’s VFW address on August 26, 2002, in which the Vice President laid down the terms of reference for the planned attack on Iraq. Attempting to assuage concerns about the upcoming invasion, Cheney cited Ajami’s analysis: “As for the reaction of the Arab ‘street,’ the Middle East expert Professor Fouad Ajami predicts that after liberation, the streets in Basra and Baghdad are ‘sure to erupt in joy in the same way the throngs in Kabul greeted the Americans.’”

In his writings, Ajami did warn, in a condescending way, that one could expect some “road rage … of a thwarted Arab world – the congenital condition of a culture yet to take full responsibility for its self-inflicted wounds.” He then added:

“There is no need to pay excessive deference to the political pieties and givens of the region. Indeed, this is one of those settings where a reforming foreign power’s simpler guidelines offer a better way than the region’s age-old prohibitions and defects.”

No One Better?

Ignoring the albatross of tarnished credentials hanging around Ajami’s neck, the Post apparently saw him as just the right academician to put perspective on the violence of last week in Middle East capitals. As for his record of credibility: Well, who takes the trouble to go to Wikipedia for information on pundits?

Nor were the Post’s editors going to take any chances that its newspaper readers might miss the benefit of Ajami’s wisdom. So the Post gave pride of place to the same article in Sunday’s Outlook section, as well. What the Post and other mainstream media want us to believe comes through clearly in the title given to the article’s jump portion, which dominates page 5: “Why a YouTube trailer ignited Muslim rage.”

Setting off the article were large, scary photos: on page one, a photo of men brandishing steel pipes to hack into the windows of the U.S. embassy in Yemen; the page-5 photo showed a masked protester, as he “ran from a burning vehicle near the U.S. embassy in Cairo.”

So – to recapitulate – the Post’s favored editorial narrative of the Mideast turmoil is that hypersensitive, anti-American Muslims are doing irrational stuff like killing U.S. diplomats and torching our installations. This violence was the result of Arabs all too ready to take offense at a video trailer disrespectful of the Prophet.

Nonetheless, it seems to be true that the trailer did have some immediate impact and will have more. According to an eyewitness, the 30 local guards who were supposed to protect the U.S. consulate in Benghazi simply ran away as the violent crowd approached on Tuesday night.

Wissam Buhmeid, the commander of the Tripoli government-sanctioned Libya’s Shield Brigade, effectively a police force for Benghazi, maintained that it was anger over the video trailer which made the guards abandon their post.

“There were definitely people from the security forces who let the attack happen because they were themselves offended by the film; they would absolutely put their loyalty to the Prophet over the consulate. The deaths are all nothing compared to insulting the Prophet.”

Pretext and Catalyst

Predictably, Islamophobes and Muslim haters with influence over Western media coverage are citing the violence as the kind of “irrational” over-reaction that “exposes” Islam’s intolerance and incompatibility with democratic values and demonstrates that Islam is on a collision course with the West.

It is no surprise that Ajami gives no attention to the many additional factual reasons explaining popular outrage against the U.S. and its representatives – reasons that go far deeper than a video trailer, offensive though it was. Ajami steers clear of the dismal effects of various U.S. policies over the years on people across the Muslim world – in countries like Iraq, Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, Tunisia, Libya, Afghanistan. (The list stretches as far as distant Indonesia, the most populous Muslim state.)

Last week’s violence not only reflects the deep anger at and distrust of the U.S. across the Islamic world, but also provides insight into the challenges posed by the power now enjoyed by the forces of extremism long held in check by the dictators toppled by last year’s wave of revolutions.

Cui Bono?

Who are the main beneficiaries of misleading narratives like that of Ajami. He himself concedes, “It is never hard to assemble a crowd of young protesters in the teeming cities of the Muslim world. American embassies and consulates are magnets for the disgruntled.”

So, does that mean the notorious video trailer is best regarded as a catalyst for the angry protests rather than the underlying cause? In other words, if the video served as the spark, who or what laid the kindling? Who profits from the narrative that neocons are trying so hard to embed in American minds?

Broad hints can be seen in the Washington Post’s coverage over recent days – including a long piece by its Editorial Board, “Washington’s role amid the Mideast struggle for power,” published the same day Ajami’s article appeared online.

What the two have in common is that the word “Israel” appears in neither piece. One wonders how and why the Post‘s editors could craft a long editorial on the “Mideast struggle for power” — and give editorial prominence to Ajami’s article — without mentioning Israel.

Presumably because the Post’s readers aren’t supposed to associate the fury on the Arab “street” with anger felt by the vast majority Arabs over what they see as U.S. favoritism toward Israel and neglect for the plight of the Palestinians. The Israeli elephant, with the antipathy and resentment its policies engender, simply cannot be allowed into the discussion.

In the circumstances of last week, Israel may be less a centerpiece than the ugly Islamophobia that has found a home in America. But these factors tend to build on and reinforce each other. And the indignities suffered at the hand of Israel certainly has resonance is the larger context of Muslims who feel their religion and culture are under attack in a variety of ways.

“Why Do They Hate Us?”

On Saturday, during a live interview on Al-jazeera, I tried to inject some balance into the discussion. I noted that one key reason for the antipathy toward the U.S. among Muslims is the close identification of the U.S. with Israel and the widespread realization that support from Washington enables Israel’s policies of oppression and warmongering against the Palestinians and its regional neighbors.

As to “why they hate us,” I had time to recall three very telling things I had mentioned in an earlier article on this sensitive topic.

1 — From the 9/11 Commission Report of July 2004, page 147, regarding the motivation of alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed: “By his own account, KSM’s animus toward the United States stemmed not from his experience there as a student, but rather from his violent disagreement with U.S. foreign policy favoring Israel.”

2 — The mainstream-media-neglected report from the Pentagon-appointed Defense Science Board, a report that took direct issue with the notion that they hate us for our freedom. Amazingly, in their Sept. 23, 2004, report to Rumsfeld, the DSB directly contradicted what Vice President Dick Cheney and President George W. Bush had been saying about “why they hate us.” Here’s part of what the DSB said:

“Muslims do not ‘hate our freedom,’ but rather, they hate our policies. The overwhelming majority voice their objections to what they see as one-sided support in favor of Israel and against Palestinian rights, and the longstanding, even increasing support for what Muslims collectively see as tyrannies, most notably Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Pakistan, and the Gulf States. Thus, when American public diplomacy talks about bringing democracy to Islamic societies, this is seen as no more than self-serving hypocrisy.”

The New York Times ignored the Defense Science Board’s startling explanation (as it has other references to the elephant plopped on the sofa). On Nov. 24, 2004, the erstwhile “newspaper of record” did publish a story on the board’s report — but performed some highly interesting surgery.

Thom Shanker of the Times quoted the paragraph beginning with “Muslims do not ‘hate our freedom’” (see above), but he or his editors deliberately cut out the following sentence about what Muslims do object to, i.e., U.S. “one-sided support in favor of Israel and against Palestinian rights” and support for tyrannical regimes. The Times then included the sentence immediately after the omitted one. In other words, it was not simply a matter of shortening the paragraph. Rather, the offending middle sentence was surgically removed.

Equally important — and equally missing — there is never any sensible examination of the motives that might be driving what Cheney called this “same assortment of killers and would-be mass murderers [who] are still there.” We are left with Ajami’s image of hypersensitive or irrational Muslims unwilling to confront their own cultural failings.

3 – On May 21, 2009, just four months after he left office, Dick Cheney gave a speech at the neocon America Enterprise Institute and blurted out some uncharacteristic honesty. He explained why terrorists hate “all the things that make us a force for good in the world — for liberty, for human rights, for the rational, peaceful resolution of differences.”

However, no longer enjoying the services of a functionary to vet his rhetoric, Cheney slipped up (and so did the reporters covering the event). Expanding on the complaints of the terrorists, Cheney said:

“They have never lacked for grievances against the United States. Our belief in freedom of speech and religion … our belief in equal rights for women … our support for Israel (emphasis added) — these are the true sources of resentment.” “Our support for Israel” – a true source of resentment. Cheney got that part right.

One Brief Shining Moment

My mind wandered back to June 2004, when former CIA analyst Michael Scheuer published his insightful book, Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on Terror. The book won him interviews with the likes of NBC’s Andrea Mitchell, and – to his credit – Scheuer rose to the occasion with candor rarely heard in mainstream media before or since.

On June 23, 2004, he told Mitchell:

“It’s very hard in this country to debate policy regarding Israel … bin Laden’s ‘genius’ lies in his ability to exploit those U.S. policies most offensive to Muslims – our support for Israel, our presence on the Arabian peninsula, in Afghanistan and Iraq, our support for governments that Muslims believe oppress Muslims.”

Scheuer went on to say that bin Laden regarded the war on Iraq as proof of America’s hostility toward Muslims, and of the reality that America “is willing to do almost anything to defend Israel. The war is certainly viewed as an action meant to assist the Israeli state. It is … a godsend for those Muslims who believe as bin Laden does.”

In an interview with ABC’s “This Week,” he added that failure to change American policies to better match realities in the Middle East could mean decades of war. Only if the American people learn the truth could more effective strategies be fashioned and implemented, he added.

By and large, the truth-telling did not happen, so there has been but negligible pressure from the American people. The situation today differs little from then. Indeed, in the same time frame of Scheuer’s book, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld grappled publicly with a troubling “unknown” that followed along the same lines, i.e., “whether the extremists … are turning out newly trained terrorists faster than the United States can capture or kill them. It is quite clear to me that we do not have a coherent approach to this.”

Since then, eight years have come and gone – with still no coherent approach and with continued media camouflaging of the bedrock reasons as to “why they hate us.” Among the chief beneficiaries of this woodenheaded approach? One can look at the military-industrial-congressional-media-security complex, especially the war profiteers and their favored politicians who stoke fear of the “evildoers.” All the better to scare you with.

Former CIA analyst Ray McGovern is co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity.


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Preston, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
90 years old, political gay activist, hosting two web sites, one personal: http://www.red-jos.net one shared with my partner, 94-year-old Ken Lovett: http://www.josken.net and also this blog. The blog now has an alphabetical index: http://www.red-jos.net/alpha3.htm